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Double principals' pay

Check out my colleague Nick Anderson's story on a new Gates Foundation survey of 40,000 teachers. That is a big sample, canvassed via telephone and online by Harris Interactive, and they produced another strong answer to an old question: How do you get good teachers?

Answer: Hire great principals. When given a choice of methods to retain good teachers, the most popular response from the teachers was supportive leadership, with 68 percent saying it was absolutely essential. Second place went to having time to collaborate with other teachers, 54 percent. High salaries took only sixth place, with 45 percent.

One way to do that would be to offer double the usual salary for exceptional principals willing to lead schools that need an infusion of good teachers to raise mediocre student achievement. Of course you would have to be very careful whom you picked for such jobs, and make it clear they would be removed if the results did not improve.

The importance of more time for collaboration suggests we also need to lengthen or at least restructure the school day.

For more Jay go to washingtonpost.com/class-struggle.

By Jay Mathews  | March 3, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
Categories:  Jay on the Web  | Tags:  Gates Foundation survey, double principals' pay, teachers endorse good leadership, time for collaboration with other teachers  
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Comments

Right answer again, and in more ways then you know.

Posted by: mamoore1 | March 3, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

As a retired teacher who worked under 8 principals, I cannot agree more with this article on the survey's findings. While all of the principals I knew were well qualified, the most successful were able to do the following top three of a very long list:

1. give unfailing support to their staff,
which meant to keep their door open,
willingness to listen to and invest
in new ideas,help negotiate difficult
areas such as student behavior and
budget constraints,come and visit
classrooms,articulate and demonstrate
clearly expectations of both staff and
students,show up and participate in
school functions - sports,art shows,
science fairs, etc. run efficient and
meaningful faculty meetings, and show
pride in their staff by representing
them well - and that's the short list!


2. recruit great staff, yes, but also be
an inspirational leader, particularly
when times are tough, and all schools
go through rough periods.
An inspiring principal is one who is
not necessarily charismatic (charm can
only go so far)but can hold firm to
strongly held, proven beliefs hewn
from the fires of experience,even when
challenged by the most grevious of
officials or obnoxious of parents.

3. care deeply about the well-being and
education of everyone in the school
environment - students, teachers,
support staff, parents et al. That
means that safety, compassion and a
deep reverence for humanity comes
before politics.

Principals put in 70-80 weeks; they have
tremendous responsibilities and the good, as well as the great ones, are worth all the support and compensation society can
give them.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | March 3, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

I honestly don't see the big deal of principals, but assuming that they are important, why do they need to be paid more? They aren't going to magically fix the problems of low-performing schools.

You can't turn students who can't read and who can't add into college ready students. At best, you can improve their skills somewhat and their attitude a lot. I don't see why we should be paying a fortune for that, when we could achieve the same thing by changing the curriculum to something the kids can handle.

Posted by: Cal_Lanier | March 3, 2010 2:20 PM | Report abuse

I like a principal who is a combination of toughness and encouragement. What you envision seems to me like a numbers-driven, results above all else, tyrant. I would find it hard to respect a principal who is focused on "using" me and my students to make more money for herself.

Posted by: pittypatt | March 3, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

One way to do that would be to offer double the usual salary for exceptional principals willing to lead schools that need an infusion of good teachers to raise mediocre student achievement.
.............................
Apparently we get great teachers by beating them over the head, telling them to "test them until they drop" and "teach to the test" but we get great principals by doubling their pay.

Every American knows that the problem is the teachers and the teacher's union since the politicians and columnist like Mr. Mathews have been telling Americans this for years. Let us save money and in fact get rid of principals and simply hire someone to fire teachers and bring in new teachers since this the columnists like Mr. Mathews have told us this is the solution.

Posted by: bsallamack | March 3, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

PLMichaels_Artsit_at_Large

I agree with your comment, I especially like point #2.

I wonder if paying principals more is the answer though. It seems to me that they have so many responsibilities and the teacher evaluations are such a time-consuming waste for them. Those long reports on one 40 minute lesson are ridiculous.

I think teachers and principals spend a lot of time with "needy" parents. Emotionally needy.

Posted by: celestun100 | March 3, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

It's all about supply and demand.

Posted by: mamoore1 | March 3, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

read the the report, Jay - it says money is not the main motivator for teachers - and that teachers don't want merit pay - and it doesn't say anything about more pay for principals.

How about instead of you popping off, we get the results of some good research and talk about that.

Posted by: efavorite | March 3, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Thank you celestun100 -

I think you are right about your points on some of the issues principals spend their time on - but,with all of the demands on the education profession now,it seems impossible to lighten the workload.

Also,I meant to say that principals work 70-80 HOUR weeks.

Posted by: PLMichaelsArtist-at-Large | March 3, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The problem is finding a quality Principal. Unfortunately today, the very best teachers rarely go into administration. Most new administrators in my experience are sycophants and incompetents who don't like teaching in the first place. They get a night school degree in administrative bs and often have only 3 or 4 years in the classroom before they are "promoted" into administration. Really, how is a 20 something with 3 years teaching supposed to tell a 30+ year veteran how to teach?

In my relatively short career I have worked with four Principals. One was barely capable of composing a coherent sentence and seemed to fit a desired demographic. One was more concerned with getting his hair done than running the school and led by the "what if people complain?" philosophy. A third is the "numbers cruncher" as described in another reply who has ruined the school. Decisions are made based on what is most convenient for administrators not what is best for kids. Case in point this Principal arbitrarily decreed that all evening events must start earlier because our VP's don't live near by and have a long trip home. Despite the fact that as a suburban school a large percentage of our parents are government/military folks who can simply not make it to our events at the new time.

Luckily one of the four was a truly gifted leader. He treated all teachers with respect and treated all subject areas as important, regardless of the testing craze du jour. Many folks (parents, students, teachers, other community members) comment on how much our school has gone down hill since he left.

He understood a simple philosophy: Give the teachers the tools they need to do their job, and then get out of the way and let them do it.

Posted by: rsburton78 | March 4, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

The problem is finding a quality Principal. Unfortunately today, the very best teachers rarely go into administration. Most new administrators in my experience are sycophants and incompetents who don't like teaching in the first place. They get a night school degree in administrative bs and often have only 3 or 4 years in the classroom before they are "promoted" into administration. Really, how is a 20 something with 3 years teaching supposed to tell a 30+ year veteran how to teach?


Wow, you get it

Posted by: mamoore1 | March 4, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

I honestly don't see the big deal of principals, but assuming that they are important, why do they need to be paid more? They aren't going to magically fix the problems of low-performing schools.

You can't turn students who can't read and who can't add into college ready students. At best, you can improve their skills somewhat and their attitude a lot. I don't see why we should be paying a fortune for that, when we could achieve the same thing by changing the curriculum to something the kids can handle.
-----
This comment is surprising, considering the source. Guess a first-year teacher hasn't got it figured out yet.

Posted by: notation | March 7, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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